The House on Ponder Lane Isabela Malo

My Name

My name is spoken quickly, with the turn of a tongue. Isabela, “My God is a vow”. Spoken in English or Spanish, my name is beautiful, or so I am told. I like it enough-it’s never been a nuisance. When I was younger, my friends gave me another name. A nickname, my parents tell me.

I enjoy having one. It follows me, and when I meet with my friends, that is my name. My parents don’t mind, but sometimes I wonder if they do. The first name, Isabela, fits, and the second, like a blanket of security, gently covers the first. I wonder if it’s like that with other people.

I wonder if they keep their second names so close to their first, as if to protect themselves. I wonder if their first name fits them the way my name fits me, or if it just covers them up. When people are covered, they feel safe. But are we?


We do lot’s of things subconsciously. Like breathing. In, and out. Like blinking. Open, and shut. Like thinking, sometimes. Other times it requires effort. What we oftentimes forget is that we hurt people subconsciously, too.

Whenever you frown at a passerby. Whenever you shut people out through the linked arms of friends. Whenever you laugh at the wrong time. Whenever you are having a bad day and want everyone around you to have just as bad of a time. Whenever you overlook, disregard, don’t look at all. Little things, big things. They all matter. They all add up in the end.


Hope is a fragile little thing. It almost always starts out small. As a flower yearns for the touch of the sun, hope wishes for something or someone-just out of reach-to untangle it from the tight grasp of twisted fate.

Hope can also start out boldly. The hope of a child is strong and sure, unyielding in its bountiful supply. As we age, our hope grows smaller. For some, it becomes shriveled and dull. Stripped of life, barren and lonely. But hope cannot die. Just as a fire can reignite, hope can spark and light the soul aflame.

It is difficult to maintain the delicate boundary between hope and naivety. They are confused with one another far too much for my liking.

Sister Sister

Her name is Adriana, they tell me. Ana? I ask. Laughter follows my speech. She’s your new sister. Mana? Yes, hermana, they tell me.

I like playing with Sissy. She is funny and likes to read storybooks, like me. But she also likes to scream. Scream and scream and scream and scream. Sometimes she does it for a reason, like when she is hungry. When I do that, they all yell shhh, be quiet, the baby is asleep. Why does she get to scream but I don’t? It’s not fair.

Other times she screams just to scream. Then my parents get all worried and bob her up and down, up and down. They put her on their shoulder and tap, tap, tap her back until a loud belch pops out, startling me. When I try that, they tell me to mind my manners. I am minding my manners! What about Sissy? Why doesn't she have to mind her manners? At that, they give one another knowing smiles, and say, she is only a baby. She can’t mind her manners. To that, I give a hmph and shovel my corn into my mouth with a frown. At least I’m the only one allowed to eat dessert.


Dreaming is an interesting concept, concerning the mind and all of its quirks. The fact that we could dream whether asleep or awake always intrigued me. What I’ve never been able to conquer, however, was how to put my wide-awake dreams into effect.

I’ve been dreaming since before I could remember; of traveling into books, visiting places around the world, fighting off dinosaurs invading my neighborhood, etcetera. The tucked-away corners of my mind enter my dreams, molding the scenery into one of my ambitions, romanticizing reality into my hope for the future.

I don't realize the surrealness of it all until I've woken up, and start a new day in the real world. Though the dreams are usually pleasant enough, I feel as though they lie to me, rather than push me to pursue my goals. They tell me that something is one way when it is really the other, and everything in my head is jumbled up into a story and laid out again, with puzzle pieces in the wrong places and storylines peeking through cracks.

A Reflection

My vignettes depicted in previous pages are few, but there are many more tucked into my mind. I pulled out those that were most obviously itching to be told. All of my experiences, all of my “vignettes”, have influenced my growing up in character and identity. Every action I’ve made, every word I’ve spoken, and everything I’ve heard and seen have impacted me in a way, have shaped me into becoming who I am today.

Esperanza struggles with what her purpose is throughout the book, and expresses her distress by her thoughts of leaving her body, of going somewhere, anywhere, else. She also has felt alone in the world, that she is the only one who thinks about life in her way. She trusted too much, in my opinion, and that led her down paths she did not wish to go. While I do trust, it comes after complete certainty that I can trust that person, rather than blindly listening and believing their words.

As a young child, I struggled to find my purpose, as Esperanza had done from a child to an adolescent. I had happily fulfilled my roles as a daughter, a sister, and a friend, but I felt like I needed something more. In the human soul, I believe there is a space especially reserved for the spiritual connection of mankind and God. After learning about Jesus as a child and reading all of the wise and compassionate choices he made in his life, I put my faith and trust in him. Though I still make many mistakes, as every person does, I do my best to live the way Jesus lived; loving everyone with whom your paths cross. As an attentive reader, I noticed that Esperanza never clearly addressed the spiritual side of the questioning of her purpose, and rather than approaching the waters of religion, Sandra Cisneros made Esperanza turn towards a cultural defiance, in which Esperanza had things of her own, and plans to “come back” for those who didn’t and couldn’t have “things of their own”.

I have experienced a “coming of age”, which almost every person does, regardless of ethnicity or cultural background. One of the most vivid experiences would probably be when I first received a phone, a time at which I was ecstatic to finally have one that I could call mine. I consider this a “coming of age” because the majority of adolescents in the United States have phones, which they received at different times and with jealous glances, I’m sure.

While I did enjoy the reading of the book, I did not agree with some of the concepts held within the pages. I found it intriguing the way that Cisneros formatted the writing, without quotation marks and with meaningful run-on sentences. What I did not like, however, were the blatant suicidal thoughts present in the book, such as when Esperanza mentioned trying to kill herself in the Monkey Garden. Though I know suicide is a major issue in the world during this time, I don’t think that it is a good idea to present the topic to eighth graders in such a brazen way.

My Dream Home
Created By
Isabela Malo


Created with images by matuska - "background pencil letter" • Unsplash - "stones pebbles stack" • Q8y_dream - "hope" • erix! - "Dream" • DirtyOpi - "mirroring ball reflection"

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